The Indian Premier League is known for giving youngsters chances and a few of them manage to make the most of the opportunity and go on to play for the national team. But, once in a while, a player like Rahul Tripathi who is 31-years-old as of today also impresses and starts knocking on the door.
The Indian Premier League was established back in 2008 by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). At that time, not many people could have imagined the kind of impact it will have on Indian cricket and how it will change the face of cricket in India forever. Fans were used to watching the traditional formats which were One Day Internationals (ODIs) and Test match cricket. It was only in 2007 that the T20 format started getting recognition. Even stalwarts of Indian cricket had not realised the potential of the shortest format of the game. As players like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid had opted out of the inaugural T20 World Cup in South Africa.
The Indian team travelling to South Africa for the tournament was filled with youngsters and MS Dhoni was named the captain for it. No one had thought the Indian team will manage to win the inaugural edition of the T20 World Cup. Even the players who were in the squad did not think that they will win the tournament. However, history was made when Misbah-ul-Haq tried to scoop Joginder Sharma over the fine leg boundary but could only manage to hit it high enough only to be caught by S.Sreesanth. This moment is now etched in every Indian cricket fans mind and that is where the T20 scenario started picking up in India. This World Cup win led to the birth of the Indian Premier League which is now one of the best leagues in the world.
In India young cricketers used to only think about playing for the Indian team and which was really tough back in the day because of the competition. But, with the introduction of the IPL, the people of India started looking at cricket as a full-time career option as if you could get an IPL contract the players' future would be secure. This led to a plethora of young cricketers taking up the sport and many even went on to play for India because of the IPL.
The focus is usually always on the young and upcoming players but that trend too might be changing. A couple of years back Suryakumar Yadav became a fan favourite after his consistent performances in the IPL. Fans were gaga over the batter and wanted the batter on the Indian team. Fan's wishes came true when the stylish batter was included for the series against England at home. Similarly this time, Rahul Tripathi's performances have become the talk of the town. It is known that the batter has been around since 2017 when he first played for the now-defunct Rising Pune Supergiants.
Rahul Tripathi has performed consistently over the years and is now proving that he can handle pressure and can deliver for his side. The right-handed batter until last year was playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders and was in tremendous form throughout the season. Tripathi scored 397 runs from 17 games in IPL 2021 and was the second-highest run-scorer for his franchise.
The IPL final in 2021 saw Rahul Tripathi injuring himself during the game because of which he had real problems when he came out to bat. He batted at number 8 that night and was limping but still tried to give his best. After being dismissed for 2 from 3 balls I remember CSK captain MS Dhoni had some kind words to say to him as a mark of respect for Tripathi's effort. That's the kind of commitment Rahul Tripathi has towards his game.
However, Kolkata Knight Riders did not retain the batter ahead of the mega-auction which in my eyes was a mistake because he had done brilliantly in the previous season. So, he was in the auction pool, and when his name came up bids were flying fast as they started with INR 40 lakhs. CSK and KKR were bidding furiously for the batter until SRH came in and bought him for a sum of INR 6.5 crores.
Rahul Tripathi has proved to be a solid batter for his new franchise this year as well as he has smashed bowlers to all parts of the ground and has looked in great touch so far in the tournament. In the 13 matches that he has played so far in IPL 2022, Tripathi has scored 393 runs with an average of 39.30 and a strike rate of 161.73. Rahul Tripathi's strike rate and average are his career-best in the IPL.
The 31-year-old batter is being appreciated by fans and ex-cricketers for the way he has performed this season. Rahul Tripathi has shown a lot of maturity whenever he comes out to bat and this can only come with experience. the kind of experience that he has had in the IPL over the years has helped him understand game situations much better.
Another thing that has improved about him is his understanding of his own game. When he bats, it is visible that he understands his game much better than what he used. He can play the field and can make the bowlers bowl according to his strength when he is striking the ball. A batter with an understanding of his own game and who can analyse the match situation and play according to it is a real asset for any side that he plays for.
The hunger to score runs never seems to die down with Rahul Tripathi which is why fans and commentators have started talking about the fact that he can be tried at the international level in the shortest format of the game. The batter for a large part of his career has been underrated but this year it seems things are starting to change for him as gets recognition and credit for the way he has been performing this season.